Is Diverticulitis Hereditary? Dissecting the Colon Disease

Posted By Author on March 20, 2024

When it comes to understanding the inner workings of your digestive health, breaking down your signs and symptoms when something goes wrong can be nerve-wracking. One such condition that tends to raise questions is diverticulitis.

A complication of diverticulosis, this gastrointestinal condition can leave you confused and searching for answers. Our goal at Charleston GI is to provide insight and resources into your gut health to leave you feeling empowered on what to do next. 

Keep reading as we dive into diverticulitis, answering some of your most commonly asked questions and breaking down the causes of this GI condition. 

What is Diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis is the second phase in the GI condition known as diverticulosis. Diverticulosis occurs when small pouches form in the lining of the colon, trapping waste or undigested food. These small pouches, or diverticula, develop gradually over time with symptoms often going unnoticed. 

Diverticulitis develops when the diverticula becomes inflamed or infected, with symptoms becoming more painful or severe in this second phase of the diverticular disease. 

Diverticulitis Symptoms and Signs 

While diverticulosis can often go unnoticed, symptoms of diverticulitis tend to make themselves more prevalent. Ranging from mild to severe, diverticulitis symptoms can appear suddenly or gradually over several days. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea, although it is less common 

If you believe that you may be suffering from diverticulitis, contact a gastroenterology specialist near you to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. 

Is Diverticulitis Hereditary? And Other Potential Causes 

One of the most frequently asked questions concerning diverticular disease is, “Is diverticulitis hereditary?” While not the leading cause of diverticulitis, genetics can play a role in its development. Genetics can influence the likelihood of developing diverticulosis if family members have also suffered from the GI condition, as well as the location of the diverticula in the colon. 

Research is still ongoing to determine the connection between diverticulitis and genetics. Even if genetics play a role, lifestyle habits have a direct connection to the digestive condition. 

The two leading causes include: 

  • Age: As you grow older, the muscle and tissue strength begin to decline, making the risk more apparent. 
  • Low fiber diet: Lack of fiber and dehydration make it harder for the colon to create and expel waste. This creates strain during bowel movements and pressure to build on the colon walls, making the risk for diverticulosis higher. 

Moving Forward: Diverticulitis Prevention

While genetics can play a role in a diverticulosis diagnosis, it does not mean there aren’t other underlying causes. If you know you have a genetic predisposition to diverticulitis, it is important to make lifestyle changes to lower your risk. 

Prevention can include: 

  • Consuming a high-fiber diet or incorporating more fiber-rich foods 
  • Drinking plenty of fluids 
  • Regular exercise

It is also important to schedule regular colonoscopy appointments with your Charleston GI doctor. During a colonoscopy, your Charleston gastroenterologist may notice diverticula on the colon wall. Regular screenings can help catch diverticulosis early on before it develops into a severe infection. 

Experiencing a Diverticulitis Flare-Up? Contact Charleston GI Today

The development of diverticulitis can cause undue stress on your GI tract and your overall health, making it difficult to go about your everyday life. Whether lifestyle changes are the culprit or a hereditary gene, diverticular disease can be managed. 

At Charleston GI, our team of gastroenterologists is here to help mitigate the effects of various GI conditions and help you have a higher quality of life.

We have four convenient Charleston area locations to choose from, in West Ashley, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, and Carnes Crossroads. There’s no referral needed, so schedule your appointment with a GI doctor near you today!